Tag: Holiday

 

Halloween Costumes From Your Favorite Books

Do store-bought Halloween costume prices send you screaming in fear? If so, the DIY route might be for you.

By now you may be thinking: How can you scare up a unique and affordable costume? Luckily, we’ve got a bright idea for you: Dress up as your favorite literary figure. This will make you look smart and boost your savings – double win!

Here are 14 affordable, literary-inspired costume ideas, broken down by categories. Book lovers everywhere can now rejoice!

Well-Loved Children’s Books

An excellent children’s book never goes out of style. These kid-lit faves make perfect costume choices:

1. The mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.

This one is easy as the main thing you need to imitate the lovable mouse from Numeroff’s series is a pair of overalls. You can then make mouse ears by gluing grey paper or felt semi-circles to a headband. If you have long hair you can also put your hair into two top buns for ears. Then, make a giant cookie with construction paper or carry around a bag of cookies.

You can also make it a family affair by dressing up as characters from the author’s other books. For example, you can dress as a pig and take along a box of pancake mix, or dress up as a dog carrying donuts.

2. Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.

Camilla Cream is plagued with rainbow stripes after trying too hard to fit in with her peers. To create your own Camilla Cream, you’ll need to cover your face, neck, and arms with different colored paint stripes (make sure you get body paint!) From there, wear a black dress or shirt to make your rainbow skin pop.

3. Amelia Bedelia from Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish.

If you don’t have a maid’s costume hanging around, a black dress and rectangle-shaped piece of white lace will do. Adorn a black hat with faux daisies and then seal the deal by carrying around a fake chicken or a string of green beans.

4. Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

For this easy costume, all you need to do is draw a creative scene with purple marker on a white shirt. Then, walk around holding the purple crayon. Nailed it!

5. Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole.

Ah, Ms. Frizzle: The science teacher we all wish we had! To transform into Ms. Frizzle, all you need to do is tease your hair or wear a big, bright orange wig. Then, pick a science theme and tape pictures relating to that theme to a dress and leggings.

YA Favorites

Young adult books may be promoted as a teenage category, but let’s be honest. You probably geek out on the following characters more than your younger cousins. Take a look:

6. Harry Potter from the namesake Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Did you really think we could put this list together and leave off Harry Potter? The classic circle glasses, lightning scar, and stick wand can all be yours for an affordable price. You can even use a black graduation robe (check the thrift store or borrow one from a recent grad). Voila! You’re Harry Potter!

7. Count Olaf and others from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.

You can expect more love for your Lemony Snicket-inspired costumes this year thanks to the Netflix mini-series. There are so many interesting characters to choose from. For example, slap on a mustache and wrap a stuffed snake around your shoulders to become Uncle Monty.

Of course, Count Olaf provides enough costume ideas himself. For bonus points, don’t forget to sing out: “I’m handsome and I’m talented and love your bank account.”

8. Characters from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

Yes, you can become Katniss by rocking a bow and arrow as well as a dress that looks like fire. However, dressing up as Effie Trinket is where the real fun is at. From her ever-changing wigs and outlandish outfits, there are many looks to choose from. May the odds be ever in your favor.

9. Become an Ugly from The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

For this costume idea, focus your efforts on your makeup with a flash tattoo from the Uglies trilogy. Tally Youngblood’s tattoo may be the most fun to replicate. She has Celtic swirls above her eye.

Adult Books

Love to read? Take a look at a few of our favorite literary costume ideas – inspired by popular adult books.

10. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Can you be any cooler than Lisbeth Salander? Luckily you can become her by coloring your hair black (if it’s not already black naturally) and slicking it back. Then, dress in black skinnies and a black jacket, and don’t go light on the fake tattoos, piercings, and metal jewelry.

11. Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.

Can’t choose between awesome period clothing and zombie makeup? You can have both if you dress as the undead Jane Bennet. Splatter red paint over a white regent-style dress, pin up your hair, and paint on your zombie face. You’re good to go!

12. Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is another classic series with so much costume inspiration to draw from. Frodo Baggins may be the easiest and cheapest to pull off. You’ll need a brown cape, a ring on a chain, and furry feet. For the cape, you can tie brown cloth or a brown towel over your shoulders. For furry feet, glue sections of a wig to flip-flops.

13. Fifty Shades of Grey from the namesake book Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

This costume is always good for a laugh. All you have to do is dress in grey tones and attach grey paint swatches to your outfit. Handcuffs are optional.

14. The old man from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

For this literary-inspired costume, you can take a trip into your dad or grandfather’s closet for some fashion choices. Add a white wig, facial hair and cane. You are now a literary genius. You’re welcome.

Be Inspired by Your Favorite Books

If none of these ideas suit your fancy, then be inspired by your favorite book. Look for ways to dress up as the title character. Or, if the book’s main characters have been overdone, try going for another character. Whatever you do, have fun with it. And, remember: By being a little creative, you’ll save a lot of money. What’s not to like about that? Happy Halloween!

 

Weird Holiday Hustles You May Not Have Thought Of

Don’t stress if dressing up as Santa’s elf isn’t your ideal way to make money this holiday season. You’ve got standards after all.

But the truth is: You may need some extra dough to buy holiday gifts for your relatives. And, a side hustle can be the perfect way to earn more money.

Not sure what type of side gig is best for you? Take a look at these 7 weird holiday hustles and start saving money right away for the upcoming holiday season.

1. Mobile Gift Wrapper

If you actually like wrapping presents, then you have a real gift. Many people are willing to pay someone to wrap their presents, yet they don’t have the time to drag bags full of gifts to and from the mall’s gift-wrapping kiosk. Here’s where you step in. Instead of working at the mall, you can start your own mobile gift wrapping business. You simply go to your client’s house or workplace, wrap the presents, and leave – with cash in hand.

2. Gift Idea Generator

If only someone would pay you for your amazing shopping skills. Well, someone just might do this, especially if that someone is strapped for time. Here’s where you take over and charge by the hour to generate unique gift ideas for those who simply don’t want to shop for themselves.

 

The easiest way to organize this type of business is to take orders through an online form. This way the shopper can specify a budget, gift preferences, and give you details about their gift recipients. You create the list of presents and then place the orders – for an hourly fee, of course.

3. Christmas Light Installer

Another major holiday pain point is hanging Christmas lights. So, why not offer a service to hang and then take down holiday lights?

 

All you need to start is an appealing flyer. From there, be prepared to go door-to-door handing out your flyers and discussing your services. You can also broaden your reach by advertising your business to senior care facilities, small shops, and more.

 

If you are tech-savvy, you have even more to offer. People love lights that are synched with music.

4. Rent Out Baby Items

Tired of having your home look like a daycare? Why not rent out your baby gear to families visiting your area for the holidays?

 

Kaylee Garcia did this last Christmas using BabyQuip, an online platform that allows individuals to rent out baby gear. Garcia, who lives in central Washington, customized her profile to include snow gear and toys. According to BabyQuip stats, an average baby equipment renter earns $600 a month. As for Garcia: She likes helping other families, as well as earning extra cash.

“The best part is that I get to help families pack light and travel happy.”

5. Toy Dealer

You aren’t the only one strapped for cash this season. Parents are also on the prowl for awesome toy deals. Why not help these parents out by buying and selling used toys in great condition?

Take a look at Jeff Neal, who considers himself an expert at this. Neal, owner of The Critter Depot, purchases Lego blocks for two to three cents a piece online and then sells them for double in larger lots on Craigslist.

“They only sell when Christmas is around the corner,” says Neal. “I tried selling them during spring and summer, but there’s never any interest.

6. DJ Jingle Bells

If you know how to drop a sick beat, then you can make some easy money this holiday season. Think about it. If you’ve always wanted to DJ, now is your chance. Start out by offering holiday-themed party music packages. You can advertise your services for office parties, as well as school events and dances.

7. Toy Installer

Are you handy with tools and a pro at reading boring instruction manuals? This may be the perfect side gig for you – and a skill that parents are willing to pay for. Just think: You could be assembling Barbie’s 500-piece dream house and outdoor play equipment – for a fee, of course. If you offer Christmas Eve or Christmas Day rush assembly, even better. Don’t forget to charge a premium for that.

Get Ho-Ho-Hustling

As you can see, you don’t need a lot of money to launch a holiday side gig. You can try one of the ideas here or come up with your own business. All you need is an entrepreneurial hustle and bank app that lets you accept payments easily and instantly. And, while you’re at it: Don’t forget to automate your savings as this will help you save even more money without even thinking about it.

So, are you ready to make some extra money this holiday season? We thought so!

 

The Best Halloween Costumes That Cost $20 Or Less

Halloween isn’t just for kids. In fact, many adults love the spooky, candy-filled holiday.

Besides getting your fill of your favorite candy, you may have your sights set on hosting or attending a Halloween party this year. If this is the case, you’ll need to scare up a costume. But, of course, you probably want to come up with a costume that won’t break the bank and blow through your hard-earned savings.

Take a look at 10 costume ideas that will give you the best boo for your buck:

Pumpkin Pie

For this costume, you’ll start with a simple orange shirt. From there, you can draw a pie on felt, cut it out and glue it onto your orange shirt. To top it off, create a whipped cream topping by adding cotton balls or fluff to a regular black headband. Voila, pumpkin pie has arrived!

50 Shades of Grey

This idea is also easy peasy – and cheap to make. You’ll need a black or grey shirt, and a bunch of grey paint samples swatches from your local hardware store. To attach the paint samples to your shirt, use glue or double-sided tape. Aim to glue on 50 shades of grey. Get it?

A Target Employee

Here’s yet another costume that starts off with a simple shirt. You’ll need a red-collared shirt, a pair of khakis, a black belt and black boots. Create a name tag and write your name on it. Clip on either a fake or real walkie-talkie, and your outfit is good to go.

An Emoji

There are many variations of this costume. A few of the cheaper options would be the dancer emoji (just wear a red dress and a flower in your hair) or the person with bunny ears (you’ll need a blue or purple T-shirt and bunny ears). You can even create the dancing duo (black shorts and a T-shirt with black bunny ears) if you’re coordinating costumes with someone else.

A Nerd

You most likely have the makings for this costume in your home somewhere – meaning you may not have to spend any money at all. For a few ideas: Wear a plaid or collared shirt with pants and suspenders (or a bowtie), throw on a pair of glasses, and carry around a calculator.

If you don’t have a pair of glasses or if you don’t want to ruin your good pair, wear some cheapo glasses that you can purchase at your local dollar store. To take things up a notch, break the glasses in half and tape them together with white masking tape.

Aerobics Trainer

This is yet another outfit idea that you may have sitting around your house. To transform into an 80s aerobics trainer, you’ll need some crazy print leggings, a bodysuit to layer over them, and leg warmers. You’ll also need either a big ponytail holder or an extra wide pink headband. Finish the look off with some wild and crazy blue eyeshadow, bright pink or orange blush, and a bubblegum pink lip color.

If you don’t have these items, they can easily be found at a thrift store, keeping your cost under $20. And, if you don’t like makeup or don’t want to buy it, you don’t have to wear it. It just adds a little more pizzazz to the costume.

An Extreme Couponer

If you get the weekly newspaper, or if you can get your hands on some expired coupons, an extreme couponer is a great (and almost free) halloween costume. Some ideas include carrying around the coupons in your hand or taping them to your clothes. You can also carry grocery bags of empty food boxes for good measure. Why not show off the deals you scored?

A Shopaholic

If you want to be the opposite of an extreme couponer, become a shopaholic. All you need for this costume is a lot of random shopping bags. You can either use old ones that you have lying around in the house, or start collecting them while out shopping.

Or, if you’re willing to get a little more creative, you can always go to a mall and ask the local store employees for extra bags. Some won’t care and will gladly help you out, but others may require you to buy something. If this is the case, move onto the next store.

Rosie the Riveter

An oldie but goodie, Rosie the Riveter is a DIY woman’s dream costume. All you need is a chambray top, a red bandana, red lipstick, and red heels or flats. If you can fit them in your budget, you can also throw in some temporary tattoos for your “flashin’ the guns” arm.

If you don’t own a chambray top, the best and cheapest option would be to grab one at the thrift store or borrow one. If you don’t have red shoes, it’s also fine to wear your regular shoes. People will be staring at the lipstick and bandana so they may not even notice your footwear.

A Jellyfish

This is a unique and inexpensive crowd-pleaser. To create a jellyfish costume, start with a white umbrella. Then, glue white ribbon or string to the bottom of the umbrella, making sure that it’s long enough to float all the way to the ground when you’re standing under the umbrella. From there, you can wear all white, gold or silver. Neon colors also work well if you’ll be partying throughout the night.

Go as Whatever You Want

At the end of the day, Halloween is supposed to be fun. If these costumes don’t interest you, there are hundreds of DIY and cheap costumes that you can make or buy. The most important thing to remember is that Halloween doesn’t have to break your bank.

 

The Rise of the Holiday Side Hustle

It’s autumn and you know what that means? Time to increase your budget as the holidays get closer. Before you know it Thanksgiving will be here and then, of course, there’s Christmas.

Holidays are not cheap and you may have to start stashing more money into your savings account – starting right now.

While creating a budget for holiday spending will help you build up a cash reserve, there’s yet another key way to generate extra money: Get a side hustle. Indeed, holiday season side hustling is the new “in” thing.

Want to learn more about how a side hustle can help you pay for your holiday expenses and achieve your money goals? Read on to learn more.

How Popular is the Holiday Side Hustle?

Holiday temporary jobs are nothing new. Many families need to increase their income as this time of year approaches. Taking on a part-time weekend or evening job to help out is a common solution. During the fall season, side hustles tend to pick up, especially when it comes to flexible gigs like driving for a ride service, walking dogs or mystery shopping.

In 2017, about 44 million Americans reported that they had a side hustle or second job during the holidays, and that number is increasing every year. In fact, by 2020, about 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.

So, how can a side hustle during the holidays help you? Take a look:

  • You’ll Have More Cash Flow

Eighty-one percent of people who side hustle do so to earn more money and the average monthly income from a side hustle is about $686. While there are many side hustles that can be done around the holidays, including working retail or selling items online, the best side hustle for you is a gig you enjoy that helps you earn extra cash.

  • You’ll Have Financial Security

With nearly four in 10 Americans side hustling, it’s safe to say that secondary sources of income are going to continue growing. In fact, Gen Xers and Millennials are leading the pack with more than seven out of 10 of them side hustling. The reason? A side gig offers financial security, especially around the holidays when expenses start rising.

In recent years, some companies have even resorted to layoffs during the holiday season, sometimes just a few weeks before or after Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the fear and anticipation of not being fully secure in 9-to-5 jobs, Americans are now ramping up their side hustles.

Indeed, by taking on a second gig over the holiday season, this gives you an opportunity to save more money, readily pay for holiday gifts, and not worry about whether you’ll have enough cash to pay your bills on time.

  • You Can Avoid Accumulating Debt

Did you know that the average American will rack up about $1,000 or more during the holidays? In the age of instant gratification and expensive technology, more people are turning to credit cards and personal loans  just to have enough money to buy Christmas presents.

However, if you have a side hustle, you can avoid this debt trap. Budgeting and saving can only do so much, especially when the average household has over $5,000 in credit card debt. So, maybe this is the year you should try out that side hustle you’ve been considering. It sure beats staring at an exorbitant credit card bill come January.

  • You Can Put Your Skills to Use

Regardless of what type of side hustle you choose, try to find something you’re good at.

For example, are you a skilled handyman? Maybe you can pick up some side gigs fixing things for your neighbors or assembling furniture. Or, are you a talented graphic artist? Maybe you can take on some clients on the side and help them redesign their logos or brochures.

By doing something you love, your side hustle will help you in more ways than one: You’ll have renewed job satisfaction and you’ll earn enough dough to buy your holiday gifts without stressing about how you’ll pay for them.

Should you join the hype?

With side hustles offering the freedom and the ability to earn extra cash, it comes as no surprise that they are becoming increasingly common.

Starting a side hustle to earn extra dough is a great idea any time of the year, but especially leading up to the holiday season. Are you ready to do the holiday side hustle and start saving more money today?

 

Beware of These 6 Holiday Budget Breakers

Classic Christmas movies like to depict the holidays as a time of cheer, warmth, and blissed-out festivities with loved ones.

But the reality? Holiday blues can emerge full-throttle. Plus, awkward scenarios with the fam and the stress of travel and last-minute shopping can up the anxiety levels. And when it comes to your pocketbook, the holidays can be a season of utmost terror. In 2017, Americans racked up more than $1,000 in holiday debt, according to a survey.

What’s worse, only half of those surveyed said they planned to pay down their debt in less than three months. The rest? They expected that debt to linger for five months or more. Frightening? You betcha.

But there’s a silver lining: By being mindful of common culprits that devour your money, you can avoid the plunging depths of holiday debt hangover (HDH).

Here are 6 budget breakers to beware of – and how you can avoid them.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Oh, these autumn treats are so-very-delicious, yet dangerous to thee pocketbook. Whether it’s a Jack Skellington Latte, apple cider donuts, or pumpkin scones, these seasonal favorite drinks and goodies can really do you in financially. Even five bucks a day during the week for two months adds up to $200.

We get it. The colder climes may send you into cozy nesting mode, making it even more tempting to splurge on sugary, warm libations. Plus, since you’re donning heavier coats and oversized sweaters, who will even notice that bit of extra padding around your waistline?

How to Avoid HDH: While it’s unrealistic to deny yourself a pumpkin spice latte during the season, set limits. For instance, commit to just one drink a week. Or load up a gift card to your favorite coffee shop, and indulge in seasonal goodies until you’re out of funds.

If you’re afraid of overdoing it, turn on notifications for transactions you make on your Chime debit card. This will keep you in check.

Impromptu Holiday Gatherings

A company holiday party is one thing, but those last-minute happy hour hangs and spur-of-the-moment gatherings with out-of-town friends can really add up. And it’s not just your food and drinks that can be pricey. Because you’re in the giving spirit, you may treat folks to rounds of drinks you may not be able to afford. Plus, to look your festive best, you may want to buy new garb for those holiday soirees.

How to Avoid HDH: Be selective in the gatherings you attend. We all experience bouts of FOMO, but make sure you won’t be paying for that nice dinner six months later. And there’s nothing wrong with suggesting a cheaper alternative, such as lunch instead of dinner, or a happy hour.

And when it comes to your attire? Sure, you want to look awesome for the gram. But take it from someone who wore the same four dollar sale dress as a maid of honor and officiant for two weddings. Most people won’t notice if you dust off an outfit.

Another option: Try mixing and matching an outfit that’s already in your closet with inexpensive accessories like a fun tie, cuff links, or perhaps a glittery wrap or stand-out neckpiece. There’s no shortage of discount retailers, from Poshmark to eBay to Nordstrom Rack. And you can also find stylish finds at a thrift store or consignment shop.

Last-Minute Gifts

Yes, I am one of those nerdy people who creates a spreadsheet for holiday gifts. But guess what? It comes in super handy when you’re trying to stick to a holiday spending plan. My spreadsheet includes gift ideas, added costs like shipping, and the amount I can spend for each giftee. So, for a last-minute gift, I first check to make sure I can afford it. If not, I can make adjustments in my current list and free up the cash that way.

How to Avoid HDH: Check that list, and see where you can consolidate. For instance, instead of buying a gift for your Aunt Jenie, Uncle Fred, and three kids, would it be appropo to buy a single gift for the entire fam bam? And instead of getting something for each of your co-workers, what about baking goodies for the entire office to share?

Another way to cut down on your holiday gift-giving is to come up with a no-gift pact. Over the years I’ve done this with my friends and some family members. It prevents any hard feelings, and we can all breathe a shared sigh of relief. My extended family also has a no-gift policy for adults. We just give gifts for the kids.

Obligatory Gifts

We all have people that we feel like we have to buy gifts for. It may be that aunt we see only once a year. Or that cousin we secretly dislike. But if we don’t get them gifts for the holidays? We might be met with awkward silence or “how could you” glares from family members on Christmas morning.

How to Avoid HDH: See if you can skirt around it by suggesting a Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange among the adults. Or give yourself permission to send that distant relative a card. If you’re still feeling a tinge of guilt, then consider spending a bit less than you planned to. Or if you’ve racked up a bunch of rewards points on a credit card, consider redeeming them for a gift card.

Impulse Buys for Yourself

We’ve all done it. During the manic of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we may trick ourselves into believing we’re purely buying stuff for others. But in fact, we add a few items here and there for ourselves. How can you resist a killer deal, right?

How to Avoid HDH: Set limits. Remember: the best way to save money is not to spend any in the first place. And, once again, set alerts on your banking app for transactions you make with your debit or credit cards.

Overlooked Expenses

Those little overlooked expenses, such as Lyft rides to and from parties, buying gift wrap and bows at the last minute, and babysitting or pet sitting costs can sneak up on you.

How to Avoid HDH: When putting together your holiday budget, don’t forget to include these little expenses. Also, look for pockets of money you may have forgotten about. For instance, don’t forget about that jar of spare change in your closet. Or money you forgot you had in your Venmo or savings account. You can use that spare cash toward these expenses.

Tis the Season to Watch Your Spending

You know full well it’s far too easy to go overboard during the holidays. But, by minding these 6 budget breakers, you can avoid falling into debt. Your 2019 self will thank you.

 

How to Prepare for Holiday Travels

If you’re like me, any mention of the holidays in September is likely to make you cringe. “Too soon!” your mind screams.

But tell that to your wallet. And your bank account. The holidays may seem far away but you know how time works in adult years…basically the season of visiting your relatives will be here tomorrow.

Luckily for you: we’re here with a friendly nudge to get your financial butt in gear and prepare for holiday travels.

What should you consider before booking a flight?

Booking flights for holiday travel should never be a haphazard affair. It requires some thought and research to make sure you’re getting the best rate. Holiday flight prices can be truly scary, so to find the best prices, here’s what you need to consider:

  • What airports are nearby?
  • Are your dates flexible?
  • Will you need extra luggage space for gifts?
  • What is the baggage policy?
  • Do you have credit card points that you can use to cover or offset this trip?

By searching different airports and dates, you may be able to save some serious money. For example, I booked a flight recently and the difference between flying out of Los Angeles compared to Burbank was more than $100. Another pro tip: consider flying out on a red eye or flying on the day of the holiday for better deals. I’ve done both, and while not super fun, I did save money and still arrived in time to celebrate with family.

And, here’s another thing to think about: if you know you’ll need to check your bag(s), research baggage fees ahead of time. This way you’ll know what to expect and can plan for the possible added expense. Lastly, check your credit card to see if you have miles or cash back that can offset this trip. Depending on the card, you may also have other travel perks like access to an airport lounge or waived baggage fees.

How far in advance should you book your flight?

Finding the best flight price can be a little tricky but buying at the last minute during the holiday season is definitely a no-no. So, when exactly should you book your flight for your holiday travels?

According to travel site SkyScanner.com, booking flights for the holidays is cheapest in September. In September, prices are on average, 5 percent cheaper. And, booking 14 weeks before Christmas – the week of September 17 – is the best week to book flights. If booked during this time, you’ll score an average of 7 percent in savings.

To get the best deal, you can also set up a price alert using SkyScanner or Google Flights. CheapAir also has a calendar of some of the best days to fly if you’re traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What time should you book your flight?

According to the Holiday Flight Report created by CheapAir, the best time to buy for Thanksgiving is in August or September. For Christmas – as shown above – the best time is in September.

If you want to go a step further, the best day and time to book your flight may be a Tuesday around 3 p.m., according to FareCompare.com.

How much should you budget for holiday travel?

Holiday flights are always more expensive because the demand is so high. Airlines know people will be traveling during this time and they can charge a premium.

Even buying at the best time can still be fairly expensive. According to The 2018 CheapAir Holiday Flights Report, you can expect to pay around $400-$500 per flight on average.

On top of that, you’ll want to consider your accommodations. Will you have a place to stay or will you need to book a hotel or an AirBnB? You will also want to budget for any activities and entertainment during your time away. And, of course, make sure to budget in the amount you may need to spend on gifts once you arrive at your destination. Indeed, the amount you need to save for your trip will depend on your particular situation.

Regardless, holiday travel is pricey, so start saving up now! Using Chime, you can save easily with our Automatic Savings program. You can also save effortlessly when you spend money with our round up option.

Another tip: set aside a portion of your paycheck for your holiday travels. I have a savings account that I named “Travel Fund” and I set aside money each time I get paid. Having that money in a special account helps minimize stress during the holidays — which let’s face it, on its own is fairly stressful, even without all the extra costs.

Remember: the holidays are all about spending time with family and getting some much-needed down time. You don’t want to add debt to the mix so saving now can help you avoid using credit to pay for something you can’t afford.

Final word

You may think it’s too soon to start thinking about holiday travel plans, but in reality it’s never too early to start saving for the holidays. Being prepared and booking flights early can help you score the best deals and avoid the stress of scrambling at the last minute.

To boot, a little preparation, budgeting, and booking ahead can save you future headaches and allow you to enjoy the holidays — without worrying about money.

 

Hygge Hacks for Healthy Finances

Have you ever heard of hygge?

The concept of hygge has been around for centuries, but it has recently resurfaced as a popular lifestyle trend. In fact, the word hygge was on the short-list for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016.

So, what does hygge mean? While it can’t be directly translated into English, this well-known word in Denmark loosely means “coziness.” It’s the practice of slowing down and prioritizing time spent with the ones you care about and doing more of the things you love the most. Incorporating hygge into your life can help you find more joy, but it can also improve your finances.

Read on to learn more about how practicing hygge can help you can spend less, save more, and prioritize your financial future.

Does hygge lead to happiness?

Hygge is a Danish concept (pronounced hoo-ga). According to Visit Denmark’s website, hygge is described as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Visit Denmark goes on to say: “The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cozying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.”

And they must be onto something. Denmark has been named one of the happiest countries in the world for the last four years, according to studies done by the World Happiness report.

So, it certainly doesn’t hurt to incorporate some hygge into your daily life.

What does hygge have to do with your finances?

The concept of hygge means trying to find joy in the little things in life – and usually those things are cheap or even free.

You don’t need a fancy lifestyle in order to be happy. You don’t need an enormous house, expensive cars, or luxury vacations to find joy or peace. You can find hygge by slowing down, taking in the moment, and spending more time doing the things you truly love.

How to embrace the concept of hygge this year

There are dozens of ways you can incorporate hygge into your life – for free. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Stay in instead of going out

You can have just as much fun spending an evening at home as you can going out to a fancy and expensive restaurant. So, try having a hygge-ful evening by lighting the fireplace, baking some cookies and reading a book.

By staying in, you won’t just sneak in your fill of hygge, but you could save a good chunk of change simply by not going out on the town.

  • Give hygge-related gifts

Gifts can not only be expensive, but can often be forgotten after a year or two. Maybe it’s time for you to give the folks you care about the gift of hygge.

Gifts like candles, cozy socks, books, and gourmet coffee make great gifts and these presents also give the gift of well, presence. These gifts won’t break your budget and your loved ones will also get the chance to incorporate hygge into their lives.

  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal

What could be more hygge than a home-cooked meal? By cooking at home more often, you’ll get to regularly enjoy the benefits of hygge.

Not only can you eat dinner in your favorite and most comfortable clothing, but you can create a warm and inviting ambiance by lighting candles and dimming the lights. As if this isn’t enough, you’ll save a boatload of cash.

So, instead of going out, invite your friends and family over for a home-cooked meal. Or, lower the cost and increase the hygge even more by hosting a potluck, where everyone can bring over their favorite, home-cooked dishes to share.

  • Decorate with frugal, hygge decor

With winter just around the corner, now is the perfect time to invoke a sense of coziness in your home and practice hygge while you’re at it. Fortunately, home decor doesn’t have to be pricey – there are plenty of frugal ways to liven up your home.

You can decorate with candles, family photos and plants. From there, get creative. These items are easy to find, don’t cost much money, and up the hygge level of your home.

Prioritize time with family and friends

The bottom line: the idea behind hygge is to spend time doing more of the things that are truly important to you.

As you can see by the examples here, you don’t have to plan extravagant get-togethers or even leave the house in order to enjoy time with your loved ones. In fact, most people can claim that the best memories spent with family or friends are the times spent just sitting around, catching up at home.

Now it’s your turn to up your hygge ante. So, invite guests over, crack open a bottle, and enjoy shared plates around the fireplace this winter. By doing so, you’ll save money while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

How to Turn Your Financial Fails into Massive Wins for the New Year

As you look back on this past year, you might think about some money mistakes that resulted in serious facepalm moments: Yea, I totally shouldn’t have gone cat lady crazy and adopted those six cats at the same time. Or: Buying a timeshare is like owning your own vacation rental, right?

Fortunately, one of best way avoid making mistakes is to learn from the mistakes of others. So to help you avoid becoming a repeat offender in 2017, we asked a few of our favorite personal finance bloggers what were some of their top financial fails, and how they can plan to turn them into mega wins during the year ahead:

Falling behind on bills

You’re well aware that a big part of adulting is staying on top of your bills. And when you’re late on payments such as your student loans or credit card bill, you’re subject to the Gods of Credit dinging your credit card score. But when you neglect to make payments on time, it may not be a matter of having enough money in the bank. You might’ve just been crazy busy and forgot to send payment. 

The plan for 2017: 

Automate everything. 34-year-old Kelby Green of The Frugalennial plans to put more of his finances on autopilot to make sure he doesn’t miss a payment. “While it’s important to take an approach in paying down debt and saving for the future, automation helps make sure bills are paid on time and you’re on track with your saving goals.” 

Clicking “Buy Now” way too much 

When it comes to shopping on the Internet, you may act like a kid with access to a limitless credit card. And with essentially everything you’d ever want in the universe at your fingertips, it’s easy to buckle to temptation. For 33-year-old Kristin Wong of The Wild Wong, she went a little overboard this year with online purchases. “I don’t even remember what I bought,” she laughs. 

The plan for 2017: 

Curb the spending. Wong suggests going back to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. “Amazon is my go-to place for household essentials, from cat food to toilet paper,” she explains. “The problem with that is, you buy a bunch other junk you don’t need along with those essentials. For 2017, I’m going to try to stay off of Amazon and start buying my household goods in a grocery store. Like a normal person.” 

Not saving enough for major life events

While making major life transitions—such as getting married, having a kid, or moving to another city—is definitely exciting, not having enough funds in place can add a load of stress. For 34-year-old Sarah Li Cain of High Fiving Dollars, she went $1,000 over budget this year when moving back to the States from China. 

The plan for 2017: 

Breaking things down to bite-size. When saving up for a major short-term goal, it helps to take into account all the costs involved. For instance, when moving to new stomping grounds, you’ll want to factor in not only how much it will cost to pack all your belongs in a pod, travel costs, but also money you won’t be earning during the move. Li Cain suggests getting as specific as possible, and break things down in smaller steps. “Not only can you set mini-milestones along the way, but to make it more attainable, break it down into as little actions as possible,” she explains.

Being penny rich, pound foolish

The most valuable resource you have is your time. You only have so much of it, and you can’t trade dollars for more of it. That being said, you’ll want to gauge if going through the pains of saving some dough is going to be worth the trouble. For 26-year-old William Lipovsky of First Quarter Finance, he learned the hard way that spending hours price shopping just to save a few dollars didn’t pay off. For instance, he spent more than 10 hours with phone support team of a discount cell phone provider, only to switch back to a major carrier. “I definitely value my time more now,” says Lipovsky. 

The plan for 2017: 

Pick your battles. It’s not just about the dollars you save, but the value you get. For instance, if you are going to go to the pains of salvaging your dated laptop, only for it to putt out every few months, and be a major buzzkill to your productivity? Don’t be ridiculous. The time and money you put into repairing it will far outweigh the price of buying a new laptop.

As we look forward in 2017, be sure to take the year to reflect on how you could’ve been better with your money. Doing so will allow you to course correct and set yourself up for massive success in the new year. Taking the steps now to make changes will help you create solid healthy financial habits that will pay off for years to come.

Onward and upward!

 

The Chime Weekly Roundup: Heartfelt Giving

The much anticipated holiday weekend is almost here, and with it will come family, gifts, and joy. Before the big day, and the holidays come to a close, celebrate the spirit of the season with a few special gifts that come from the heart, and by donating to a meaningful charity. Looking onward to the new year, explore financial resolutions that will bring you success, as well as ways to avoid the financial hangover from the holidays.

Read on and enjoy these four financial posts just in time for all the festivities.

1. What to say to your friend who still doesn’t know what to get their family or friends…

Think outside the box. Literally, outside the gift box. Worried you can’t give a gift simply because you didn’t shop early enough? Give some of your time and help a loved one get a space organized, do a quick DIY project, or frame a friend’s favorite photo. There are many more ways to give than simply store-bought wonders.

2. What to say to the friend who wants to make the holiday season more meaningful…

Give to those who need it most. Find a charity you identify with and make giving simple by setting up a yearly auto-payment or noting on your calendar the day you plan to donate. Supercharge your karma, there’s no better feeling than giving to a cause expecting nothing in return.

3. What to say to your friend who is stressed about their holiday budget…

Make a money resolution. It may be building an emergency fund, creating a budget, picking up a side gig, or all three! It’s been shown having a plan, and goals, are key to financial success, and now’s the perfect time to get started.

4. What to say to your friend who always finds themselves in post-holiday debt…

New year, new you. Avoid the financial stress of having less money after the holidays by making sure you’ve planned ahead for the deficit. With any luck, the only hangover you’ll have will be from the fabulous festive wine.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s weekly roundup, and of course your weekly roundup bonus from being enrolled in our Automatic Savings account program! Visit Chime to learn more.

 

The Chime Weekly Roundup: Holiday Edition

Welcome to the Chime Weekly Roundup! Each week we bring you a roundup of the best money tips, tricks and hacks that will help you, and your friends, lead healthier financial lives.

It’s a busy time of the year. We are all hustling to buy gifts, book last minute travel, and attend holiday parties, all while trying to keep our budgets in check. It can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help. So, take a deep breath and check out this week’s roundup of holiday travel hacks that will help you go further on less while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

1. What to say to your friend who can’t figure out what to give this year…

Give the gift of travel! Experiences are all-around the best kind of gifts to give. Giving someone an experience provides them with the opportunity to learn more about themselves, and the world around them. Remember, it doesn’t need to be some exotic vacation across the sea, local museums and food festivals work just as well.

2. What to say to your friend hasn’t booked their flight home for the holidays…

Have you explored all the options? If you want to get home for the holidays without breaking the bank, and staying put due to fearful financial factors, these tried and true travel hacks are sure to help.

3. What to say to your coworker who always gets everyone the lame office gift…

Did you just wrap office supplies again? Some of the best gifts are practical with a twist, like a wordy office mug or quirky sticky notepad. These gifts have the benefit of being affordable, practical, and charming. Don’t be the person who gives an eraser or sticker pack, dazzle your coworkers with creative simplicity.

4. What to say to your friend who’s putting off open enrollment because “it’s complicated”…

There are resources that can help! Don’t just wing-it, follow advice from those who know what they are doing so you reduce the risk of missing out and losing money, on employee benefits. The process will go smoother and seem less complicated if you spend more time in the beginning on the initial prep work of gathering everything you need to complete your benefits enrollment. If you run into problems you can always utilize free online tools to help you estimate insurance costs and employer coverage, or as said earlier, ask an expert.    

5. What to say to your friend who always runs out of money around the holidays…

Develop a spending plan. You can always find a way to participate in the holiday giving if you get a little creative. Set yourself a budget, or take part in a small gift-giving event like Secret Santa or White Elephant. Try giving something sentimental and handmade, while cheap these gifts always pack that, “it’s the thought that counts” punch. Whether it’s helping a friend clean out their garage or regifting something you never use, there is always a creative way for you to get involved in the holiday cheer.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s weekly roundup, and of course your weekly roundup bonus from being enrolled in our Automatic Savings program! 

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